Have it happened to you before, when you say:”oh, what a bad day!” and someone would pop up saying back: “Yes, I’m having a very bad day too and bla bla bla”!!?
I keep noticing that, people tend to complain back instead of sitting and listening to the problem and offering support to help relax and move on!
Yet, there was this one time when this rile of “complaining back” didn’t work!
I was on the bus sitting next to an HIV+ lady heading to a seminar when a big guy asked to if he can sit in the vacant seat next to us. He was looking for some company, someone to talk to during the trip.
Five minutes later, he started talking about his last appointment with his oncologist at the hospital. Complaining started about the amount of drugs, the pain, the needles, incompetence of nurses and doctors he has to put up with.
He turned out to be suffering from a resistant bone cancer and had recently undergone a surgery.
The lady kept listening to this guy’s pain series and tried to show empathy and support. She moved to sit next to him and kept saying that this is God’s will and we should accept it.
The poor lady couldn’t complain back, it’s impossible to complain back and share her story with HIV. No way could she talk about the sweaty nights, the drugs and their side effects, the pain, the tests she has to put up with regularly till she dies. She can’t say that she’s HIV+.
Why not? Well, it’s easy…
First thing people tend to judge others, and when it comes it HIV, there is only one judgment and in our case, this lady must be a whore, an unfaithful, unclean chick and she deserves what she got!
Second, a stigma and discrimination reactions would flow starting from the look, the whispers, and body rejections to painful words.
Although, the virus would not jump from an infected body to another or would be passed by the air like the case of the flu, yet people still fear it and avoid physical contact.
The guy and lady’s stories with cancer and HIV are very much the same, both of them have to put up with a lot of pain, but being HIV+ seems to add the pain dosage with the absence of social support and acceptance.
It never occurs that people may be victims of the HIV virus; it can be due to lack of knowledge, being a victim of rape. HIV got passed on to numerous people in the hospital by injecting contaminated blood in the eighties and still some got contaminated the same way few years ago.
My heart almost stopped beating when I saw that look at this lady’s face. I can’t imagine how bad she was feeling at that moment, being chained and incapable of speaking up while this guy kept filling our ears with his drama.
If we made it to speak about cancer publically without fear of rejection, then I’m sure that people living with HIV can still open up about their serological status with fearing the stigma and rejection.
Just keep in mind that only through unprotected sex, blood and from pregnant woman to her child, HIV can be passed on!! Stop listening to the myths around it.